Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Out With The Old.

Posted on | January 8, 2014 | 7 Comments

Well, I got lots of good stuff for Christmas.  But no one was able to find a replacement for my barn coat.  Oh, they tried.  But how do you replace this?

Ah, the perfection of a broken-in barn coat.  It always has a piece of twine tucked somewhere in case of emergency.  There’s always a stale treat hidden in its folds to lure a loose animal back inside the fence.  It can be used as a rag to wipe things or a plug to stop leaking things.  No matter how many times it is washed, it envelopes you with the comforting smells of hay and manure, woodsmoke and wet dog, fresh dirt and buck funk, curdled milk and dried egg yolk.  (Do not put stray eggs in your barn coat pocket.  Do not. You will not remember them until you have broken them.)  The rips and stains stand as testimony to a full life and a long barnyard to-do list.

Too bad almost all the pockets had holes so that the hidden objects just floated around somewhere inside the coat lining.  Well, the pockets that weren’t just hanging out into space anyway.

And the stuffing was just a few remaining matted and exposed tufts of fiberfill.

The elbows were almost worn though.

They desperately needed some of those cool suede elbow patches you see on fancy suit coats.   Although I do find those confusing.  Is the person wearing this suit coat going to climb under the row covers, commando style, to harvest the broccoli?  Or use his elbows as a fulcrum against the white oaks when trying to remove old fencing that has grown into the trees?  ‘Cause he doesn’t really look like that’s his thing.

Plus all the torn and hanging pieces of coat fabric were too tempting for the animals to resist.  If I stood still for more than a few minutes I always had a goat or a sheep standing beside me, chewing on the strips of flannel.

Some of the offered coats didn’t have top and side pockets.  I have to have the side pockets for gloves and screws and poultry staples and animal crackers for goat treats.  I have to have top pockets to hold my Walkman radio (yeah, I still use that) and scissors and the camera, plus the dogs’ morning dental sticks.

There has to be a hood.  Because sometimes it’s just rainy or windy enough that I need a hood to keep from having wet hair dripping water under my collar or chunks of hair blowing into my eyes or mouth constantly.  The Other Half suggested I just wear a hat.  Which is exactly what anyone whose hair is 1/4 inch long all the way around their head would say.

But the hood is also necessary to hang the coat from bucket hooks, fence posts, or low-hanging limbs when you work up enough sweat during a job not to need it.  You can’t just lay a barn coat on the ground.  That’s like begging the pony to poop on it, the goats to trample it into the mud, and the Great Pyrs to run off with it.

We checked Tractor Supply and Jeffers.  Walmart and Target.  Carhartt and Southern States.  L.L. Bean and Cabela’s.  I knew I had picked up my original barn coat for a cheap price but I couldn’t remember where.  The tags with the name brand had disintegrated a long time ago.  I couldn’t find anything like it at the local stores or the more expensive online stores.  I was willing to pay more for quality but I wasn’t willing to pay for anything that wasn’t exactly the same as my old one.  That’s the adventurous spirit in me.

By the time Christmas was over I figured I’d just have to keep the old barn coat.  Until I found a replacement or the goats ate enough of it that I was forced to switch back to Ol’ Red.  Ol’ Red was my original barn coat, complete with a blazing American flag and nubby polar fleece.

I got O’l Red when Goodwill was having a Dollar Day sale.  As if the fleece wasn’t warm enough, just the memories of Dollar Days at Goodwill warms a person from the inside out.  Everything in the store only costs $1.  Except for shoes.  Which is fine.  Because used shoes kind of gross me out anyway.

Ol’ Red busted a zipper a couple years ago.  But with the pockets intact, the hood still functional, and all the smells infused perfectly, I couldn’t bear to put O’l Red in the trash.  Instead, Ol’ Red hangs in mudroom.  Perfect for cool spring mornings when I just need a bit of warmth over my PJs in order to start the milking, but not full closure.  Also, excellent for throwing on in the house when I come downstairs and the woodstove is down to coals—I can throw Ol’ Red over my nightie, make a quick dash to the woodpile, and sit down to sip coffee wrapped in nubby fleece while waiting for the fire to blaze up again.  Even better for sliding over your t-shirt and shorts on the way to the bus stop—just in case a neighbor stops at the end of the drive to say hi before you have your bra on. (Bras are not required before the bus arrives at 6:30am or after 8pm when you are at home n the couch.  There are rules about these things.)  Now that I think about it, Ol’ Red is an excellent substitute for getting dressed in the morning.  Way to go, Ol’ Red.

But as luck would have it we had to make a shopping trip to the neighboring city.  We primarily needed more jeans for Big.  But if I have to drive 30 miles to run an errand then I pick up everything I need from that area.  So we set our sights on Northern Tool to price the floor models of woodstoves, a return at Target, Goodwill for jeans, Tractor Supply for worming meds, SavALot for specials in the frozen food department, hospice flea market for fat quarters, Aldi for cheap boxed goods and those cool carts where the kids insert a quarter and get it back after they return the cart, Ollie’s for rubber bands, PetSmart for dog tags, Michael’s for ribbon, Dollar Tree for 5 subject notebooks for next semester, and, finally, the 25 cent sale at the 99 cent bookstore.

And as we pulled out of the Dollar Tree parking lot, I noticed the one store I hadn’t checked for my barn coat.


Ah, Rose’s.

Rose’s has always been a last stop shop for discount merchandise.  Need a cheap throw for the dog’s bed?  A low-cost sprinkler that just needs to last through one summer birthday party?  Bargain priced tupperware to replace the ones the kids keep throwing away in their lunches?  Sporting goods apparel that the kids have to have for this season but will never wear again?  Rose’s has all that plus more.  By “more” I mean one beautiful, hooded, plaid flannel, fleece lined barn coat.

Glory, glory, hallelujah.

It was the very last one.  Which I think speaks to its incredible versatility and popularity.  The kids think it was probably just leftover from several years ago. That theory might have been supported by the fact that the tag didn’t ring up in their system and an outerwear clerk had to be tracked down to guesstimate a price.  In any case, after only a mere $15 I had a brand new, exactly like my old one except for the color, barn coat.  In 2014 I’ll  be sporting brown plaid instead of green plaid.  Very daring of me to make the change.

So, in true New Year’s style, it’s out with old and in with new around here.  And while we’re replacing old things with new things, I have to share this delightful project that Pretty and I undertook last weekend.  To spice up the gift giving at our third and final Christmas celebration we made some purses out of recycled sweaters.

First we felted the sweaters by washing and drying them.

Then using this incredibly easy tutorial, we turned a bunch of them into adorable purses.

Pretty and I stayed up late into the night, picking colors, cutting pieces, sewing and stitching, while the borrowed DVD boxed set of Duck Dynasty Season 1 ran in the background.  It’s the first time I’ve really seen the show and it didn’t seem as rednecky or outrageous as I’ve heard people suggest.

For the most part, it made me thank the Good Lord Above that I was blessed with at least 1 girl among my 4 children.  ‘Cause 4 boys looks a little bit frightening.  It also made me think the most responsible one of my children (not mentioning any names) will probably spend the rest of his/her life trying to keep the wildest one of my children from spending his/her (yeah, right, like it’s the girl) days shooting things, blowing things up, or finding bizarre reasons not to be at work.  Oh, and there was one scene where Uncle Phil used his teeth in the process of cleaning a dead duck at career day that actually made me gasp out loud.  When I start eviscerating chickens with my teeth, someone please come get me off the farm.  Please.  Pretty please.

But lest you think this is one of those blogs where we rub our crafty creations in your face, there are no pictures of the felted mittens we also made out of the sweaters.  Because it took all my restraint and resolve to wrap them neatly with the other presents instead of ripping them into pieces and throwing them in the woodstove.  Picture taking was out of the question.  Because I hated those mittens almost as much as I hated the peppy little crafter who told me I’d knock out a pair of adorable felted mittens in only 30 minutes.

In only 6 hours (6 hours!!) I had 4 right handed mittens and no idea why no matter how I turned the pattern or pinned the pieces I could not make a left handed mitten.  I should have realized ahead of time that this would be a problem when even the extra peppy co-host was demonstrating the adorable-felted-mittens-in-only-30-minutes by wearing one backwards.  Even she couldn’t figure it out.  Plus, anytime I tried to review the video tutorial I had to rewatch the 14 second advertisement at the beginning.  Who knew 14 seconds lasted longer than touring the 9 circles of Hell!?!?!?!!!  Of course, it wasn’t as long as the time the computer spent buffering.  Right before it got to the part I needed to see.  What the heck is buffering?  And wouldn’t it be just as effective as waterboarding but without the hassle of the boards and the water?  I think PSYOPS is missing an opportunity here.

Luckily, my mom stopped by and explained how to make left handed mittens to match.  Which I couldn’t actually do because all the matching fabric was used up in the 4 right handed mittens.  So the plan of matching mittens had to be changed to color-coordinated mittens.  By 11 hours into the project there were tears.  By 14 hours in, felted mittens were officially dead to me and I was just hoping to escape from the crafting session with some of my hair still attached at the roots.  So although we managed to finish the mittens in time for the gift exchange, we’ll be making more purses out of the rest of the sweaters.  And I have blocked that peppy crafter from my search engine.  As far as I’m concerned, adorable-felted-mittens-in-only-14-hours are a fashion statement I don’t ever care to deal with again.

Of course, there are worse fashion statements.  Bella’s night time habit of sneaking a chicken off the roost and killing it was something we had hoped to leave behind in 2013.  Since she only does it at night, no one’s outside to stop her or reprimand her.  Locking the chickens up at night only stopped the problem until they were loose again.  Locking Bella up at night defeated the purpose of having a livestock guardian dog.  Lecturing Bruno about allowing his young companion to kill chickens at night was ineffective.  Carrying her back to the dead chicken and yelling at her didn’t stop it either.  The temperatures are way too cold to be sneaking in and out of the house several times at night with the shock collar hoping to catch Bella in action and zap her out of it.  So we’ve gone old school.

Yep.  Bella’s wearing the dead turken and will be for the next couple days.  Let’s hope she hates the dead chicken necklace as much as I hated the adorable-felted-mittens-in-14-hours.  Chicken killing is last year’s fad, Bella.  And if that doesn’t break her of the habit, I suppose I could play her videos of dogs killing chickens.  Except, it starts buffering right before the dog makes the death bite.  Buffering and buffering and….


7 Responses to “Out With The Old.”

  1. ltreat
    January 8th, 2014 @ 8:38 am


  2. Charade
    January 8th, 2014 @ 10:19 am

    I hope that brown plaid barn coat treats you well. You know, don’t you, that it’s the one you left behind those many moons ago when you favored the green plaid.

    Loved this post. Happy New Year!

  3. Leigh
    January 9th, 2014 @ 4:42 am

    Roses! Oh my goodness, I used to love Roses! We don’t have one around here but it used to be a regular for everything except food.

    I have to say your barn coat is absolutely perfect. Mine is a lined denim jacket (super down jacket in frigid temps), but I like your point about the upper pocket. The lining in my side pockets is shot anyway, so that anything I put in them is lost in the innards of the jacket (including eggs which, yes, I’ve learned about the hard way, LOL).

    I hope the dead chicken necklace cures Bella. Our Pyr puppy wouldn’t stop chasing chickens (and goats), but when I found him with a dead chicken he went back to his former owner. Now that we have coyotes in the area again, I wish we had a good Pyr to deal with them.

  4. Jill
    January 9th, 2014 @ 8:16 am

    Pretty cute purses. Gross necklace. just saying… great post! Everybody needs a barn coat worthy of the job!!

  5. Jennifer
    January 9th, 2014 @ 9:04 am

    Great post!
    One question: Do they really have ‘outerwear clerks’ at Roses?

  6. Leslie@Farm Fresh Fun
    January 9th, 2014 @ 12:37 pm

    Loved every single part of this. Great site! Your coat description/functions are spot on… I’m never without treats n baling twine and my coat is charred n sticky n stinky but WARM. Hubby still berates me about letting the dog wear his old coat that I deemed ugly and asks why he couldn’t possibly do the same using mine without fear of death! Thanks for commenting on my fashionista post!
    Stay snug!

  7. Aunt Peggy
    January 9th, 2014 @ 5:03 pm

    cute pocketbooks!

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